The availability of test results can vary depending on factors such as the test type, testing method, and location of the testing facility. Depending on the test, results may be available within a few hours of the sample being received at the laboratory, or it may take several days for results to be processed.
If your doctor has ordered a fasting test, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully. This typically involves abstaining from all food and only drinking clear water for a period of 12-14 hours before the test.
It’s generally safe to continue taking your medications during this time, but follow your doctor’s instructions. Common fasting tests include those for glucose, lipids, and cholesterol levels.
If you’re unsure whether you should fast, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider for guidance.
When performing a blood test, the skin over the vein is first cleaned with an antiseptic or alcohol. Next, a tourniquet is wrapped around the upper arm to restrict blood flow and make the veins in the lower arm more prominent. A small needle is then inserted gently into a vein, and the tourniquet is removed.
Blood is collected in a syringe or blood tube through the needle, and the puncture site is covered for a short time to stop any bleeding once the needle is removed. Your healthcare provider will provide instructions for collecting other types of specimens, such as urine, stool, sputum, semen, or other specimens that can be collected at home
There are several reasons why a lab test may need to be repeated, including:
Confirmation of diagnosis: If a test result indicates a potential disease or condition, a repeat test may be ordered. Matching results from the repeat test to the initial test can confirm a diagnosis. For example, a high result from a fasting glucose test may prompt a repeat test, and if the result is high again, a diagnosis of diabetes may be confirmed.
Unexpected results: If a test result doesn’t align with your overall health level, such as your signs and symptoms and physical exam results, your healthcare provider may reorder the test. This may happen when the measured substance in the test is high or low due to something you ate, recent physical exercise, or other circumstantial factors. Rarely, errors due to improper processing or transportation of the sample can also affect accuracy.
Insufficient or improper sample collection: A test may need to be repeated if there was not enough sample collected to perform the full panel of tests or if the sample was not collected properly. For example, a 24-hour urine test may need to be repeated if all of the urine wasn’t collected.
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